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Houthis target southern Israel using drones, group says

Yemeni Houthi rebels targeted the Israeli port town of Eliat today using “a large batch of drones,” the group said in a statement, following numerous attacks on Israeli shipping over the past several weeks.

The group said they had carried out “a military operation” against “sensitive targets” in support of Palestinians living under “killing, destruction and siege in the Gaza strip.”

NBC News was unable to independently verify this report. No claims of casualties or damage have yet been made.

The Houthis are an Iran-aligned group that controls much of Yemen but are not recognized as its government internationally. Since November, they have launched repeated attacks on vessels bound for Israel in the Red Sea, preventing passage through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. They have previously said that they will continue their attacks on ships heading for Israel until humanitarian aid is accessible in Gaza.

Israeli hostage killed by IDF was holding a white flag

At least one of the three Israeli hostages shot by IDF forces in Gaza was holding a white flag, a military official told reporters today.

Three Israeli hostages who had either “been abandoned or escaped” emerged from a building “tens of meters [yards]” from IDF positions on Friday, as the military was engaged in “intense fighting” in the neighborhood of Shuja’iyya in Gaza city, the official said.

At least one of them carried “a stick with a white cloth on it” as all three emerged “without shirts,” the official said. They were identified by one soldier, but another “feels threatened and opens fire,” killing two immediately and injuring one more, the official said.

A battalion commander issued a ceasefire order after “a cry for help is heard in Hebrew,” the official said, but there was another “burst of fire towards the third figure,” who also died. The hostages were killed hundreds of meters from a building marked with writing reading “SOS,” he said, adding that the military would investigate any connection.

Describing the action as “against our rules of engagement,” the official said that a “preliminary investigation” was being conducted at the “highest level” as the deaths of the hostages sparked protests in Tel Aviv last night. The IDF has previously encouraged Palestinian civilians to carry white flags with them to identify them as non-combatants.

National Security Advisor meets Abbas, discusses two-state solution

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah yesterday, to discuss a two-state solution, the stability of the West Bank, and efforts to increase the flow of life-saving humanitarian assistance for Palestinian civilians in Gaza, according to a statement from the White House.

In their meeting, Abbas told Sullivan that “the Gaza Strip is an integral part of the Palestinian State” and that a potential two-state solution must include “the entire territory of the State of Palestine in the West Bank, including East Quds [East Jerusalem], the Gaza Strip,” Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

He also stressed the need for the U.S. to intervene in what he described as the “silent annexation” of the West Bank, as Palestinian civilians are increasingly displaced by growing settler violence.

Sullivan reiterated President Biden’s “longstanding vision” for peace in the Middle East, including “a path to a two-state solution,” according to the White House statement, telling reporters ahead of the meeting that Palestinians displaced in the northern Gaza strip should be able to return and “feel real security.”  

Third day of Gaza communications blackout is hindering aid efforts

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A telecommunications blackout that began on Thursday is still ongoing into this morning, according to internet access advocacy group NetBlocks.org.

The internet and phone outage is hindering aid deliveries and rescue efforts, with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society saying on X that they have lost contact with their teams on the ground, nor can the injured call emergency services.

IDF says it targeted two schools in Gaza City

IDF forces conducted raids Al-Mu’tasim Bi’llah and Al-Farabi schools in Gaza city, as well as raids on Jabalia refugee camp and operational compounds in Gaza’s southern city of Khan Younis, the Israeli military said in a statement Friday.

The raids on the two schools were “due to information regarding Hamas terrorists that concealed themselves within schools,” the IDF said. Thousands of displaced Palestinian civilians are sheltering in school buildings and compounds.

The IDF also struck a compound in Jabalia refugee camp after identifying “the movement of a number of Hamas terrorists on the roof” from which “shots were fired,” it added.

NBC News was not able to independently verify these reports. Hamas did not immediately confirm the death of any of its fighters and has previously denied using schools in this way.

U.S. Defense secretary embarks on multiday Middle East trip

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will embark on a multiday trip to the Middle East today, stopping first in Israel before heading to Qatar and Bahrain.

He will meet with Israeli military leaders to discuss an “eventual” cessation of high-intensity ground operations and airstrikes, a senior defense official at the Pentagon said yesterday.

Austin’s meetings in Qatar — a country that has played a critical role in facilitating negotiations with Hamas — will focus on the U.S.’ “gratitude” for “their work with us on a range of regional and global objectives,” the official said.

In Bahrain, Austin is expected to visit U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and attempt to convene a “multinational framework” to reduce threats to shipping, in light of “increasing Houthi aggression in the Red Sea,” the official added.


Al Jazeera journalist killed in Gaza is laid to rest

At a funeral today, mourners wept over the body of Al Jazeera journalist Samer Abu Daqqa, who was killed in a drone strike while covering the aftermath of strikes on a school in Khan Younis yesterday.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, as of yesterday, 64 journalists and media workers have been confirmed dead since the start of the war on Oct. 7. Most were Palestinian journalists.

Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

David Miliband: ‘It’s impossible to deliver aid’ or ‘protect civilians’ because of combat in Gaza

International Rescue Committee President and CEO David Miliband told NBC News, “It’s impossible to deliver aid, and it’s impossible to protect civilians, while the fighting is going on. That’s the humanitarian case for the cease-fire.”

“Now we can also and must ameliorate the situation literally minute by minute, hour by hour. There’s an International Rescue Committee team in Egypt at the moment. We have medical expertise. We have expertise in containing contagious diseases,” Miliband said. “We have partners inside Gaza, but it’s impossible to work while there’s such a threat to life and limb from the fighting.”

Her parents were told to seek safety in Rafah. A piece of shrapnel killed the 7-year-old in her sleep.

Sidal, from Khan Younis, died overnight from a shrapnel fragment that hit her in the head while she was sleeping in a tent.
Mahmud Hams / AFP – Getty Images

TEL AVIV — The shrapnel pierced through the thin film of 7-year-old Sidal Abu Jamea’s tent, tearing a hole through the pink blanket she was wrapped in and killing her as she slept.

“She didn’t scream,” her mother, Najwa Abu Jamea, told NBC News. “I didn’t even hear her breathe.”

It’s a death that has played out thousands of times in Gaza — a child, the most blameless of civilians, killed in a war that the Israel Defense Forces said is targeting Hamas, but has exacted a toll of more than 18,700 so far, according to Palestinian health authorities. At least 70% of those killed have been women and children.

The family, originally from Khan Younis, had fled south to a refugee camp in Rafah, on the Egyptian border, inside a shrinking corner of the Gaza Strip where the IDF had told Palestinians they would be safe.

Read the full story here.

Netanyahu on a mission to maintain power, shore up support

Israel’s Netanyahu has spent the past several weeks maneuvering to maintain power and shore up public support amid attacks from political rivals, pressure from the Biden administration, and growing international criticism of his handling of the war.

In an apparent effort to play to his right-wing base, Netanyahu publicly broke this week with President Biden and rejected any talk of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He called the Oslo peace agreement, which established the Palestinian Authority in 1994 and gave it the power to govern the West Bank and Gaza, a “mistake” that should not be repeated. The statement was a blunt rebuke of Biden, who has called for a “revamped” Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza after Hamas is defeated.

Netanyahu’s move follows a long-running pattern of the Israeli leader making hard-line statements for his own political gain, according to current and former Israeli officials, who asked not to be named.

U.S. and Israeli officials told NBC News that they fear Netanyahu has adopted some positions in the war against Hamas to prolong his own political survival.

Read the full story here.

Protest erupts in Tel Aviv after IDF admits it mistakenly killed 3 Israeli hostages

TEL AVIV — “Free the hostages! Now!”

The chant that has become an almost daily occurrence in Tel Aviv rang out with renewed vigor tonight, after the IDF revealed it mistakenly killed three Israeli hostages in northern Gaza during the offensive to free the dozens still held captive by Hamas.

Hundreds of people filled the streets for an impromptu march outside Israel’s Defense Ministry, bringing traffic to a halt as they called on Israel’s leadership to do more to see the more than 100 hostages released.

“We came to support the hostages’ families whose children and babies, mothers, daughters, grandparents are kidnapped in Gaza,” said Guy Anitz, 30. Holding up an Israeli flag as he joined the march, he said that he didn’t personally know anyone taken hostage but felt compelled to make his voice heard.

“We’re asking our government to do more to bring them back — and safe,” Anitz said. He said he largely blamed Hamas for the IDF’s accidental killing of three hostages.

He said he believed the fighting will continue until Hamas militants “put their guns down” and release the hostages.



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